Following liver transplantation, all hepatic nerves are transected; thus, liver allografts are completely isolated from neural control of their hosts. Despite this absolute denervation, liver allograft function does not appear to be significantly impaired after successful transplantation. In experimental animal models, hepatic denervation has no major effects on bile acid production and biotransformation, while it increases blood pressure and salt retention; decreases the number of hepatic progenitor cells, cholangiocyte proliferation, and liver regeneration; and influences the hepatic microcirculation, diet behavior, and glycemic control. In humans, hepatic denervation after liver transplantation has no major deleterious effects on bile secretion, liver regeneration, and hepatic blood flow. Insulin resistance and postprandial hyperglycemia, changes in ingestion behavior, and reduced stimulation of hepatic progenitor cells in the canals of Hering are the major side effects of absent liver innervation. Despite these abnormalities, patients can lead a new life with improved quality of life.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.